Maglev (derived from magnetic levitation) is a system of track bound transportation that uses sets of magnets to levitate the vehicle up off the track, and to move the 'floating train' ahead at great speed taking advantage of the lack of friction.

The main advantages of Maglev transportation systems are freedom from friction, maximum ride comfort, maximum safety, high cruising speeds, low noise pollution, no formation of particulate matter, no pollutant emissions, low maintenance costs.

With Maglev technology, there are no moving parts. The train travels along a guideway of magnets which control the train's stability and speed. Maglev vehicles have set several speed records and Maglev train systems can accelerate and decelerate much faster than conventional trains; the only practical limitation is the comfort of the passengers and increasing energy consumption at higher speeds. Overcoming air drag, which makes all land transport more energy intensive at higher speeds, takes up the most energy. The power needed for levitation is typically only a small percentage of the overall energy consumption of a high speed maglev system.

In principle, there are two types of Maglev systems for passenger transport. High speed Maglev such as the Transrapid and the JR Chuo Shinkansen have travel speeds of up to 600 km/h. By contrast, urban and regional Maglevs are designed for speeds of up to 200 km/h.

Maglev systems can also be used for fast container freight traffic. These Cargo maglev systems use other floating techniques.

Along medium range routes (up to 1000 miles) Maglev can compete favorably with airplanes. Maglev Systems are also quieter and smoother than conventional trains, and have the potential for much higher speeds.

Hyperloop systems are a special application case of Maglev systems. With hyperloop, Maglev vehicles are accelerated in vacuum piplines. Such hyperloop-systems could eventually be suitable for container freight traffic in some cases. However, for the passenger's transport hyperloops are seen very critical, because considerable security problems and maintenance-intensive, technical requirements arise. Hence, a majority of Maglev experts reject hyperloop for passenger transport.

As more maglev systems are deployed, experts expect construction costs to drop significantly by employing new construction methods and from economies of scale.